Geneva Costa

Costa’s works are focused on censorship and identity in relation to her
own experiences and to the larger plight of women in society. While personal narratives propel the creation of each piece, they are allegorical in imagery and symbolism to allow the audience to interpret and experience each piece on their own terms. 

Geneva utilizes oil paint and traditional painting techniques to underscore the biased representations of women in an historical context with special attention to the treatment of the female form throughout art history. In each work, Costa blends the autobiographical with current political and religious themes to parallel the historic narratives commonplace in classic oil portraiture. 

In her most recent works, Costa uses obfuscation of the female face as commentary on imposed identity and the censorship of thought. The artist paints in a manner that identifies the subject matter as a woman, yet the face, her most identifying feature, has been censored as a commentary on current political events, societal views of the female, and religion’s role in the depiction of women. 

Geneva Costa has a BFA in Studio art from Montana State University and an MFA in Visual Arts from California State University, Northridge. She has shown across the country in solo and group shows. Her work was included in the collection of the Chancellor of the California State Universities. She currently lives and works in South Dakota. 

My work explores the relationship between the female body and contemporary cultural, political, and societal manifestations of gender. Autobiographical in their genesis, these representational paintings use allegory to illustrate my experience as an American woman living in today’s society. During the inception of each painting, I examine religion’s role in the depiction of women and draw on art historical portrayals of the female body. I also apply personal stories, diverse perspectives gleaned from my experience spent living in disparate regions across the country, as well as current events and the inherent media bias they are reported with, in order to cultivate an informed narrative.

These diverse and central topics are synthesized together in the seemingly calm worlds of my paintings. Beneath the surface, the intended layered meanings are teeming with visual cues that point the viewer towards ideas surrounding the history of the female body: gender identity, religious and political ideologies governing the rights, roles and responsibilities of the sexes. Beauty and delicate surface treatment of the representation become an unassuming entry point to these topics. I choose ambiguity of symbolism to allow a broad reach for my images, as I wish to open dialog on difficult topics surrounding the conceptual underpinnings of my work. Aestheticized and nuanced visual cues, and the inclusion or omission of specific details, such as the posture of a figure or choice of color palette, offer insight on the dialogue I strive to elicit about the ideas that compel me to paint. 



Instagram: @geneva_costa